Does it really make a difference to a worker’s wellbeing if they are walking on carpet, concrete or timber? Recent research shows that being surrounded by natural wooden surfaces has positive results, not just for the workers themselves, but for their productivity.

Walking on a wooden floor in the workplace contributes to workers’ wellbeing and has the potential to create happier, more productive workplaces with reduced absenteeism.

Findings from a world-first Australian study shows employees surrounded by natural wooden surfaces in the workplace reported higher personal productivity, mood, concentration, clarity, confidence and optimism.

Based on a survey of 1000 indoor Australian workers, the research provides fresh evidence to underpin the business case for biophilia – the principle that exposure to nature increases human wellbeing.

Applying the findings to workplaces – ranging from corporate and government offices to home offices – has the potential to create happier, more productive workplaces with reduced absenteeism.

The study by the University of Canberra funded by Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA), found that the more natural looking wooden surfaces workers could see from their workstation, the higher their satisfaction and wellbeing.

The effect on wellbeing was greatest when wood was used in combination with other natural elements such as plants, water features and natural light.

Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer from the University of Canberra said:

“We know it’s good for us to spend time outdoors interacting with nature, but with people spending so much time indoors, there’s increasing recognition of the potential benefits of bringing nature into the workplace and the home.

“Importantly, wood is a particularly useful tool for bringing nature into the workplace in situations where it is not feasible to retro-fit other changes, such as increased natural light.”

This research also complements overseas studies that have suggested that more wood surfaces and other natural materials in educational environments can lead to similar results, with indicators being higher academic marks and better student behaviour.

Overseas studies have also shown benefits to hospital patients associated with increased exposure to natural elements in their environments.

For more information on the Australian study, go to: http://makeitwood.org/healthandwellbeing/wellness-study.cfm